Who was the most divisive President in history?

Who is the most divisive President?

  • Reagan

    Votes: 1 2.2%
  • Nixon

    Votes: 4 8.9%
  • LBJ

    Votes: 3 6.7%
  • JFK

    Votes: 1 2.2%
  • Truman

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • FDR

    Votes: 1 2.2%
  • Wilson

    Votes: 1 2.2%
  • Jackson

    Votes: 3 6.7%
  • Lincoln

    Votes: 25 55.6%
  • Other?

    Votes: 6 13.3%

  • Total voters
    45

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
3,642
Caribbean
#31
Obviously Lincoln's election in 1860 immediately launched a string of seceding states. I think this is a special case. Lincoln campaigned on a policy of containment, not abolition. His first inaugural address was conciliatory, annoying some in the North. The point is that de facto, Lincoln was president of the of the Union without the Confederacy. Within the Union there were divisions, but he won reelection in 1864 by a good margin
I believe Lincoln did not carry three states in 64, which later voted against the 13th.

He tried conciliation, but so did Nixon who is currently in second place. The country was divided over Viet Nam, and Nixon ended it. The draft created demonstrations, etc., he ended it. Racial tension created unrest, he ushered in affirmative action. Environmental activism took off at this time, and he created the EPA. He even tried conciliation with the Commies. So, how was that divisive? To some extent, it's about the man, not policy.

Nixon united the country in at least one way. When he was forced out, no one was complaining. lol
 
Dec 2011
3,556
#32
I believe Lincoln did not carry three states in 64, which later voted against the 13th.

He tried conciliation, but so did Nixon who is currently in second place. The country was divided over Viet Nam, and Nixon ended it. The draft created demonstrations, etc., he ended it. Racial tension created unrest, he ushered in affirmative action. Environmental activism took off at this time, and he created the EPA. He even tried conciliation with the Commies. So, how was that divisive? To some extent, it's about the man, not policy.

Nixon united the country in at least one way. When he was forced out, no one was complaining. lol
No, he still had his supporters, remember he was elected by a landslide and a lot of his supporters didn't care about the reasons he left office.
 

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
3,642
Caribbean
#33
No, he still had his supporters, remember he was elected by a landslide and a lot of his supporters didn't care about the reasons he left office.
I think he carried 48 states, but still, three voters here have him as most divisive.

Maybe they can explain it. For me, Lincoln is an easy call, and I wouldn't know who to put second. The first thing that comes to mind is with Nixon hated. Even his friends didn't like him.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
2,934
Las Vegas, NV USA
#34
Nixon carried every state except Massachusetts in 1972. DC went Democratic as it always does. It has to be said that his first term (1969-73) had many successes both in domestic and foreign policy except for failing to end the Vietnam War. This happened in the first few days of his second term possibly with a cynical pact where Hanoi agreed not to press for a final victory for two years. Whether this was true at the time, it's exactly what happened in 1974.
 
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Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,645
US
#35
No, he still had his supporters, remember he was elected by a landslide and a lot of his supporters didn't care about the reasons he left office.
As a child in 3rd grade during the 1972 election run, I can remember one girl in the class who was for McGovern. As children often do, many of the other classmates treated her unmercifully, singing and chanting, "Nixon, Nixon, he's our man. Throw McGovern in the garbage can." When Watergate hit, I - as a child - was shocked. For a child of that era - naive and innocent as most of us were, such actions were inexcusable. I recall students then turned on Nixon, emulating and imitating his " I am not a crook" comment.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,978
#37
Andrew Johnson. The repercussions of his divisiveness are still felt today in the US in many facets of our social-cultural makeup.
Andrew Johnson was more divisive than Lincoln. Lincoln was a moderate Republican before and after his election, but many in the south would not accept any Republican president. For both though, the situation was divisive, not just the president.

John Adams deserves a mention, but I wouldn't put him at the same level as the above, Jackson, or FDR. The Alien and Sedition Acts were divisive. The Federalist interpretation was that freedom of press meant a lack of prior restraint. However, writers and publishers could still be prosecuted for seditious libel, as before under the constitutional monarchy. This may conflict with our ideas about democracy.
 
Jul 2016
181
Somewhere far, far away...
#38
With respect to contemporary reception, Lincoln is far and away the most divisive figure on the list. The list is very 20th century oriented — not only would I agree that Andrew Johnson needed to be named as well, but I think some other names like Rutherford B. Hayes deserved to be up there also. He had the most contentious election in history and earned all sorts of derisory nicknames throughout his Presidency on that account alone. It didn't help that he took up divisive causes throughout his administration: he made the decision to withdraw federal troops from the South and end Reconstruction, he attacked patronage and the long-lasting spoils system by calling for civil service reform, and he vetoed the Chinese Exclusion Act as he believed it needed to be negotiated bilaterally first. For that, the east tended to praise him, but those on the west coast were outraged and some Democrats in the House of Representatives even tried to impeach him. I can't imagine his handling of the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 was too unifying either. There are others like John Quincy Adams and John Tyler who are also worth mentioning.

In the 20th century, Woodrow Wilson, FDR and Harry Truman were probably the most divisive in their own times.

In regards to historical reputation, Andrew Jackson is likely the most contentious. Not too many people sit on the fence with that guy; he's usually considered either great or one of the worst.
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,475
#39
Lincoln, though through no fault of his own.

The political leaders in the South were not going to accept the election to president of any man from a political party with an anti-slavery platofrm, and had been threatening secession even before Lincoln was a candidate. In the 1856 presidential election there were secessionist rumblings as well, with warnings that if John Fremont won it would bring about disunion and civil war.

Nevertheless it would have to be Lincoln, since his election was the catalyst for a civil war.
 
Jun 2017
2,578
Connecticut
#40
Lincoln, though through no fault of his own.

The political leaders in the South were not going to accept the election to president of any man from a political party with an anti-slavery platofrm, and had been threatening secession even before Lincoln was a candidate. In the 1856 presidential election there were secessionist rumblings as well, with warnings that if John Fremont won it would bring about disunion and civil war.

Nevertheless it would have to be Lincoln, since his election was the catalyst for a civil war.
Ironically with Lincoln once the South seceded he technically became one of the least divisive Presidents and the Whig economic agenda(that the Republicans supported) that had been stagnated for decades was pushed through with ease subsequent Presidents could only dream of. If most of your enemy's leave the country, I mean are you really divisive anymore?:)
 
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